Amazon Cloud Cam Is Poor (Tested)

By: Rob Kilpatrick, Published on Nov 17, 2017

Retail behemoth Amazon has entered the surveillance market with the Amazon Cloud Cam, the eyes of its just-announced Amazon Key delivery service.

But how does the camera stack up against incumbent cloud cameras like Nest, Ezviz, Arlo, and others? We bought the Amazon Cloud Cam to find out.

In this report, we tested:

  • Image quality
  • Streaming/compression issues
  • Motion/person detection
  • Clip sharing/export
  • App usability
  • Configuration

While consumer sites are giving the Cloud Cam strong reviews, we disagree. Compared to other options that we tested against, we found a number of technical problems that make it fairly uncompetitive, except, of course, for Amazon's massive brand/distribution advantage.

Summary

The Amazon Cloud Cam has several drawbacks compared to other consumer/DIY cameras:

  • Compression issues: In our tests, event video periodically became highly compressed, with noticeable artifacting, blocking, and smearing reducing details, not seen in other cloud cameras we have tested.
  • No way to disable audio: The camera includes no way to disable audio streaming or recording, certainly a privacy issue for some and potentially a legal issue in certain jurisdictions. Shared clips all contain both video and audio.
  • Limited mobile app: The Cloud Cam mobile app offered only basic features, with live view and event playback for one camera at a time, and only a list of event clips with no search available by date/time or event type.
  • No local storage: Cloud Cam recordings are cloud only, with no option for SD storage such as Ezviz, Samsung SmartCam, or others.

On the positive side, Cloud Cam's people detection was very accurate in our tests, rarely missing human subjects when they were present in the scene (<95% of events, out of ~100-150 events during testing), and no instances of non-human motion being labeled a person.

All in all, the Cloud Cam is not a very good camera compared to what is available elsewhere but many who default to buying from Amazon may find it good enough if they do not know better.

Price

The Amazon Cloud Cam can be purchased directly from Amazon and BestBuy for $120 USD.

Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox
Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox

The pricing sits in the middle of general consumer options, notably lower than the lower cost Nest Cam (~$199 online) but notably higher than similar cameras like the EZViz Mini Plus which sell for ~$65 and may still be integrated with Alexa.

Subscription Required For Most Features

The Cloud Camera requires a subscription for person alerts, motion zones, and sharing of clips, starting at $6.99/month. Compared to other subscriptions like Nest aware which offer intelligent alerts, clips and timelapses, and activity zones for 10.99/month or EZVIZ which offer 7 days of storage for 5.99/month. Notably, comparable EZVIZ cameras have the ability to store footage locally with a micro SD card, negating the use of a subscription plan.

However, unlike most cloud platforms, this monthly charge is not per camera, with the Basic plan covering up to three cameras on one account for the same $6.99 price. For those who want multiple cameras, this could be a notable cost savings over time for extended recording.

Free accounts may view live video, receive motion notifications (general, not people), and view 24 hours of archived video. Downloading and sharing of clips is not available in free plans.

Physical Overview

The Cloud Cam's design is similar to many consumer/DIY options, such as Nest or Yi Home, with the camera mounted on a positionable pedestal mount. The image below provides a comparison to other comparable indoor consumer cameras

While the mount is similar to many others, the point just below where the camera connects to the ball mount is especially thin, flexing when the camera was repositioned during our tests. This may be a weak point over time if the camera is frequently repositioned.

The video below provides a detailed overview of the Amazon Cloud Cam's physical features and construction.

Limited Mobile App

The Cloud Cam mobile has two key limitations:

  • Single camera viewing only (live/playback): Users may view only a single camera at a time in both live and playback. No split screen viewing of multiple cameras is available.
  • No search or date/time entry: Clips are listed chronologically, with no way to search for specific events either by type (person vs. motion) or time/date. This may be especially problematic for those with longer retention plans, as finding events from days ago requires the user to scroll down through all clips which have occurred since then.

Other features are unremarkable, with typical two-way audio controls, download videos/snapshots to camera roll, geofencing, etc.

Compression Issues

In our tests, Cloud Cam clips frequently appeared highly compressed, clearing after a few seconds, shown below:

This caused notable issues in subject details, with the subject and chart appearing blurred/smeared prior to the stream clearing, and much better after:

Note that during our tests, our internet bandwidth remained consistent, over 20 Mb/s down and 10 Mb/s up, tested multiple times, so this issue seems to be independent of bandwidth.

Image Quality Examples

We tested image quality in a smaller conference room, more similar to the size of residential rooms or small offices.

The image below shows the Amazon Cloud Camera's full light and low light image quality at 18' distance from the camera / 30 PPF, about the max distance users would see in large residential rooms, small offices, etc.

During the day, the camera produced rough subject detail, but overexposure issues were common, shown on the chart below.

At night, IR illumination was weak at ~18', about 2' short of the camera's max 20' IR spec. The subject was roughly visible, though no identifying details were available.

Motion / Person Detection Performance

In our tests, Cloud Cam's person detection was accurate, properly identifying objects as people over 95% of the time, with only a few misses over the course of two days of testing/~150+ events.

Test Parameters

The following firmware versions were used for this test:

  • Amazon Cloud Cam: 585439220

3 reports cite this report:

Directory of 30+ VSaaS / Cloud Video Surveillance Providers on Jun 07, 2019
This directory provides a list of VSaaS / cloud video surveillance providers to help you see and research what options are available. 2019 State...
Amazon Acquires Blink on Dec 22, 2017
Amazon has made their first significant acquisition in the connected home space, buying wire-free camera manufacturer Blink. We examine Amazon's...
Amazon Key In-Home Package Delivery Examined on Nov 21, 2017
Interesting idea or invitation for criminals to rob you? Amazon's recent announcement of Key, a service that will help manage visitors, welcoming...
Comments (4) : PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Startup Vaion Launching End-to-End AI Solution Backed with $20 Million Funding on Jun 17, 2019
An EU / USA video surveillance startup, Vaion, founded by ex-Cisco Senior Directors is launching an end-to-end VSaaS platform with $20 million in...
Directory of 30+ VSaaS / Cloud Video Surveillance Providers on Jun 07, 2019
This directory provides a list of VSaaS / cloud video surveillance providers to help you see and research what options are available. 2019 State...
Startup Rhombus Systems Says Twice the Features, Half the Price of Verkada on Jun 04, 2019
Closed cloud systems may be the fastest growing segment of video surveillance with Meraki and Verkada. Now another California company is joining...
China / US Trade War Impact Splits Industry on Jun 04, 2019
As the trade war continues to heat up, 170+ integrators told us "What impact will the US / PRC China conflict have on the industry?" Respondents...
Smart CODEC Usage Statistics 2019 on Jun 03, 2019
Smart codecs are now nearly a standard feature in IP cameras, but our statistics show integrator adoption has not increased at the same rate. In...
OWAL Startup Profile - Ex-Googler Cloud AI Video Platform on May 29, 2019
OWAL, a NYC-based startup developing AI video analytics, is aiming to "improve the quality of life" within high-rise apartments, and commercial...
Verkada Favorability Results 2019 on May 29, 2019
Verkada has taken the industry by storm with the fastest growing video surveillance sales organization ever and a half billion dollar valuation....
Security / Privacy Journalist Sam Pfeifle Interview on May 24, 2019
Sam Pfeifle is best known as the outspoken former Editor of Security Systems News. After that, he was publications director at the International...
Average Frame Rate Video Surveillance 2019 on May 23, 2019
What is the average frame rated used in video surveillance systems? In IPVM's 2011 statistics, the average was 6-8fps increasing to ~10fps in...
Bank Security Manager Interview on May 15, 2019
Bank security contends with many significant threats - from fraudsters to robbers and more. In this interview, IPVM spoke with bank security...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Repositionable Multi-Imager Camera Shootout - Avigilon, Axis, Dahua, Hanwha, Hikvision, Panasonic, Vivotek on Jun 19, 2019
Repositionable multi-imager cameras are one of the fastest growing segments in video surveillance, with a slew of new offerings being recently...
Genetec Synergis Cloud Link - Complex, Costly and Confusing on Jun 18, 2019
Genetec's Synergis Cloud Link is complex, costly and confusing compared to competitor access control architectures. Inside this note, we examine...
Startup Vaion Launching End-to-End AI Solution Backed with $20 Million Funding on Jun 17, 2019
An EU / USA video surveillance startup, Vaion, founded by ex-Cisco Senior Directors is launching an end-to-end VSaaS platform with $20 million in...
Biometrics Usage Statistics 2019 on Jun 17, 2019
While face and fingerprint recognition are used regularly for smartphones, it is not as common in physical security. In this note, we examine...
The Scheme Hikvision and China Importers Use To Avoid Tariffs on Jun 17, 2019
Hikvision and numerous China importers are avoiding 25% tariffs by including an SD card slot in their IP cameras to claim they are 'digital still...
Sighthound Transforms Into Enterprise AI Provider Profile on Jun 14, 2019
Sighthound is now rapidly expanding its R&amp;D team, building an enterprise AI service. This may come as a surprise given their origins 6 years...
ADT Eliminating Acquired Brands, Unifying Under 'Commercial' Brand on Jun 14, 2019
ADT is eliminating the brands of the many integrators it has acquired over the past few years, including Red Hawk, Aronson Security Group (ASG),...
NSA Director Keynoting Dahua and Hikvision Sponsored Cybersecurity Conference [Canceled] on Jun 13, 2019
The technical director for the NSA’s Cybersecurity Threat Operations Center will be keynoting a physical security cybersecurity conference that is...
Farpointe Data Conekt Mobile Access Reader Tested on Jun 13, 2019
California based Farpointe Data has been a significant OEM supplier of conventional access readers for years to companies including DMP, RS2, DSX,...
Embattled $400 Million China Funded Philippines Surveillance System Proceeds on Jun 13, 2019
An embattled 12,000 camera surveillance system project that will cost ~$400 million will proceed.  The project contract was awarded, had its...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact